Workplace absenteeism is on the rise. In a 2017 survey, 71% of small to medium-sized firms revealed that their profitability had been affected by people not coming into work.
The main reasons for absence have been identified as staff stress from a heavy workload, harassment, personal reasons, low-moral, caring for family, depression, illness, and alternative job-seeking. But in many cases, allowing flexible working practices can mitigate these issues, leading to reduced absenteeism and a more appealing place to work.
Here are three reasons to introduce flexible working in your business:
1. Improved morale
Team morale is important to any business. As modern workforces strive for better work-life balances and general fulfillment, an investment in morale building will always be a shrewd one. According to a recent study published by the BBC, the traditional nine-to-five workplace structure is now quite uncommon, as more and more firms adopt flexible policies to adapt to the needs of their employees.
Within the same study, it was found that almost one-third of participants would prefer the option to have a flexible policy instead of a salary increase. All these trends highlight how employees are increasingly prioritizing a new work-life balance, and supporting staff in this endeavor is crucial for keeping your workforce happy and productive.
Allowing more flexible working hours can therefore improve morale, making for happier, more productive employees.
2. Promote staff health and wellbeing
The productivity of employees is reliant on their general health, whether mental or physical. If workers are unable to come into work due to poor health, the business suffers. Moreover, workers coming into work despite their illness will suffer from presenteeism - the condition where employees becoming increasingly unproductive but continue to come into work regardless.
Even just allowing employees to work in different environments, such as cafes or public spaces, for a few hours per week has been shown to reduce workplace stress, tension, and improve engagement. In addition, implementing a more tolerant sick day policy will help improve trust between you and your staff. It will allow employees to take the time they need to recover and come back better than ever while also avoiding illnesses spreading around the office.
3. Increase trust and loyalty
We all like to feel trusted in our roles, no matter our level of seniority. By facilitating flexible working policies, you can show your employees that you trust them and, in turn, nurture loyalty in them.
With that said, the practicalities of flexible working mean that you can’t simply switch to it overnight. It’s important to facilitate flexible working, making it as easy as possible for employees - productivity and collaboration should not suffer in favor of remote working or different working hours.
Luckily, modern business benefits from technology which makes it far more viable an option to have colleagues working remotely and even across time zones where necessary. For example, cloud platforms like Google Docs make it possible to collaborate on documents across teams and locations. Unified communications tools like Skype for Business provide a solution to ease any communications issues. Project management tools like Teamwork or Trello make it far easier to manage workloads.
It’s also worth setting expectations around flexible working. In some offices, it will be difficult to allow it entirely because the business requires enough people to be present at all times to service clients or greet customers. It simply doesn’t make sense to allow flexible working and then have everyone choose to come in at 10 am each morning if your business is receiving phone calls from 8 am.
One solution is to provide ‘core working hours’ where colleagues agree to be in the office between certain hours, or to allow employees to work from home but only on certain days. The most important thing is that you find a solution that works for the business as much as it does for its team.